|Stylistic origins||Heavy metal, alternative metal, rap metal, funk metal, industrial metal, groove metal, grunge, hardcore punk, hip hop|
|Cultural origins||Early to mid 1990s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Electric guitar, bass, drums, turntables, synthesizer, sampling, vocals (rapping, screaming, growling)|
Nu metal (also known as new metal, neo-metal, nü-metal, or aggro-metal) is a subgenre of alternative metal that fuses elements of heavy metal music with those of multiple other genres, most notably ones like hip hop, funk, and grunge.
Bands associated with nu metal have derived influence from a variety of diverse styles, including multiple subgenres of heavy metal. Nu metal music is largely syncopated and based on guitar riffs, although guitar solos are rare. Many nu metal bands use seven-string guitars with a low "B" to create a heavier sound. DJs are also sometimes used for rhythmic scratching and electronic backgrounds. Nu metal vocal styles range between singing, rapping, screaming and growling.
In 1997, nu metal was beginning to rise in popularity. 1998 is generally recognized as the year nu metal broke into the mainstream. In the late 1990s, there were bands blending nu metal with other music genres (e.g., industrial metal, such as Static-X and Dope). In 2002, critics began claiming that nu metal's mainstream popularity was declining, but some bands still had commercial success. By the mid 2000s, metalcore was one of the most popular genres within the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. During this period, many nu metal bands experimented with other genres and sounds.
Alternative metal, funk metal, rap metal, grunge and industrial metal bands of the 1980s and 1990s including Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction, Primus, Rage Against the Machine, Helmet, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry have been identified as laying groundwork for the development of nu metal, such as combining aggressive riffs with pop structures and drawing influence from a variety of genres within and outside of heavy metal music.
Groove metal and thrash metal bands of the same era such as Pantera, Slayer, Sepultura, Metallica and Anthrax have also been cited as influential to nu metal. Anthrax pioneered the rap metal sound by fusing hip hop with metal on their EP I'm the Man.
Deftones' early work was substantially influenced by metal and rap, and featured many different vocal styles like screaming, rapping and singing.
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Bands associated with nu metal have derived influence from a variety of diverse styles, including electronic music, funk, grunge, gothic rock, hardcore punk, hip hop, new wave music, industrial metal, jazz, post-punk, symphonic rock and synthpop. Nu metal also derives influences from multiple subgenres of heavy metal including rap metal, funk metal, alternative metal and thrash metal.
Nu metal music is largely syncopated and based on guitar riffs. Mid-song bridges and a general lack of guitar solos contrasts it with other genres that are part of heavy metal, in which guitar solos play a major role. Another contrast with other metal genres is its emphasis on rhythm, rather than complexity or mood, tending towards groove metal in rhythm. Nu metal bassists and drummers are often influenced by funk and hip hop break beats, respectively, helping add to the rhythmic nature of the genre. Similarities with many heavy metal subgenres include its use of common time, distorted guitars, power chords and note structures primarily revolving around Dorian, Aeolian or Phrygian modes.
Many nu metal bands use seven-string guitars (which are sometimes downtuned to increase heaviness) and rarely eight-string guitars (Deftones) over traditional six-string guitars. This results in bass guitarists using five-string and six string instruments. DJs are also sometimes used for additional rhythmic instrumentation such as music sampling, turntable scratching and electronic backgrounds.
Nu metal is also sometimes noted for participation of women in the genre in contrast to some other metal genres, including bands such as Coal Chamber, Otep and the all-female band Kittie.
Nu metal vocal styles range between singing, rapping, screaming and death growling, sometimes using multiple of these styles within one song. The lyrics of many nu metal bands focus on pain and personal alienation, similar to that of grunge, rather than the themes of other metal subgenres. Nu metal uses the traditional pop structure of verses, choruses and bridges, contrasting it with other metal genres such as thrash metal and death metal.
Trevor Baker of The Guardian wrote "Bands such as Linkin Park, Korn and even the much reviled Limp Bizkit also, incidentally, did far more to break down the artificial barriers between "urban music" and rock than any of their more critically acceptable counterparts. Their concerts also drew huge numbers of women, which is much more than you could say for any old-metal band." Nu metal fashion can include baggy shirts, sports jerseys and jackets, basketball singlets and shorts, hoodies, cargo pants, sweatpants, dreadlocks, spiky hair, buzz cut, body piercings, tattoos, long hair, shaved heads, goatee, jumpsuits and sweatsuits. Like the music itself, nu metal fashion is influenced by other fashions such as goth and hip hop.
Early development (early-mid 1990s)
The origins of the term are often attributed to the work of producer Ross Robinson, sometimes called "The Godfather of Nu Metal". Many of the first nu metal bands came from California, such as Korn, who are identified as the ones who pioneered the nu metal sound with the release of their Neidermayer's Mind demo album in 1993, and the Deftones. Other influential bands are Staind from Massachusetts, Limp Bizkit from Florida, and Slipknot from Iowa. The aggressive riffs of Korn, the rapping of Limp Bizkit, and the acoustic ballads of Staind created the sonic template for nu metal.
In 1994, Korn released their self-titled debut album, which is considered to be the first nu metal album. Korn's debut single "Blind"'s music video received airplay on MTV, exposing nu metal to a wider audience in a time when grunge dominated. Nu metal continued to achieve recognition through MTV and Ozzy Osbourne's 1995 introduction of Ozzfest, which led the media to talk of a resurgence of heavy metal. Ozzfest was integral to launching the careers of several nu metal bands, including Limp Bizkit in 1998. The band only had experienced underground fame, as their debut album peaked at number 72 on the Billboard 200. Nu metal didn't have plenty of bands playing the genre until 1997 where multiple nu metal bands like Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and Sevendust all released their debut albums.
Mainstream popularity (late 1990s and early 2000s)
A sample of "Good God", a song from Korn's second album Life Is Peachy. This song showcases the band's earlier raw and aggressive sound which helped popularize the nu metal genre.
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In 1997, nu metal was beginning to rise in popularity when Korn released their single, "A.D.I.D.A.S." off their album Life is Peachy. Life is Peachy peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200 while the song A.D.I.D.A.S peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.
1998 is generally recognized as the year nu metal broke into the mainstream, with Korn's third album, Follow the Leader, which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and became a multi-platinum hit, and paved the way for other nu metal bands. By this point most nu metal bands were playing a combination of heavy metal, hip hop, industrial, grunge and hardcore punk. Established artists such as Sepultura, Slayer, Vanilla Ice, Primus, Ice Cube  Fear Factory and Machine Head released albums that drew from the style. In Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, Ian Christie wrote that the genre demonstrated that "pancultural metal could pay off". Korn's Issues album also peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and the band had Billboard Hot 100 singles such as Falling Away From Me. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, many nu metal bands including Korn appeared constantly on MTV's Total Request Live. Woodstock also held a 1999 festival which featured many nu metal artists like Korn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Sevendust.
Max Cavalera, former frontman of the band Sepultura, formed his new band Soulfly. Their debut album, Soulfly, was released on April 21, 1998 to positive reviews and was soon certified gold in the United States. It continued the Nu metal sound his former band started on the album Roots, a raw and extremely heavy, aggressive sound. Deftones, a band from California, released their album Around the Fur, which peaked at #29 on The Billboard 200, remaining there for seventeen weeks and sold 43,000 copies in its first week of release. Around the Fur as well as the band's Adrenaline album both were certified gold in the summer of 1999.The album was RIAA certified gold on July 7, 1999 in recognition of 500,000 units sold. The nu metal band Coal Chamber's self-titled debut peaked at #10 on The Billboard 200 and the band's single covering Peter Gabriel titled Shock the Monkey from their album Chamber Music peaked #26 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Their self-titled debut has been certified Gold by the RIAA, with an excess of 500,000 copies in the United States.
Orgy also became extremely popular in 1999 and 2000 with albums like Candyass, which was certified platinum by the RIAA and the band had Billboard Hot 100 singles such as Blue Monday and Opticon, which both peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In May 1999, nu metal musician Kid Rock had sales for his Devil Without a Cause album taking off with the third single "Bawitdaba" and by April 1999, where Devil Without a Cause had achieved a gold disc. The following month, Devil Without a Cause, as he predicted, went platinum.
In 1999, Slipknot, a nu metal band from Iowa, emerged with an extremely heavy sound, releasing their debut album, which has gone on to sell over 2 million copies in the United States alone, with Rick Anderson of AllMusic writing "You thought Limp Bizkit was hard? They're the Osmonds. These guys are something else entirely." Limp Bizkit's second album Significant Other, released in 1999, reached number 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 643,874 copies in its first week of release. In its second week, the album sold 335,000 copies.
In 1999, the nu metal band Staind's second album Dysfunction had popular singles such as Mudshovel, and has been certified 2 times platinum by the RIAA by selling 2 million copies in the United States alone. In 2000, Limp Bizkit's follow-up album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, set a record for highest week-one sales of a rock album with over one million copies sold in the U.S. in its first week of release, with 400,000 of those sales coming on its first day, making it the fastest-selling rock album ever, breaking the world record held for seven years by Pearl Jam's Vs. That same year, Papa Roach's major label debut Infest, and Disturbed's The Sickness became platinum hits.
Late in 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album Hybrid Theory, which remains both the best-selling debut album by any artist in the 21st century, and the best-selling nu metal album of all time. The album was also the best-selling album in all genres in 2001, offsetting sales by prominent pop acts like the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, earning the band a Grammy Award for their second single "Crawling", with the fourth single, "In the End", released late in 2001, becoming one of the most recognized songs in the first decade of the 21st century. During the same year, the prog-influenced band Mudvayne's debut L.D. 50 received critical acclaim .CMJ called the Mudvayne album "A vivid cross section of nu-metal styles." 
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That same year, Slipknot released their second album Iowa, which peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200, going on to sell over a million copies in the United States, critic John Mulvey proclaimed the album as the "absolute triumph of nu metal". The band P.O.D.'s Satellite album went triple platinum and peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band Drowning Pool released a nu metal album titled Sinner, which featured the hit single Bodies. It went platinum after six weeks of its release and its song "Bodies" became one of the most frequently played videos on MTV for new bands. The nu metal band Alien Ant Farm's album Anthology peaked at no. 1 on the Top Heatseekers chart and included a popular cover of the Michael Jackson song Smooth Criminal.
In 2002, critics began claiming that nu metal's mainstream popularity was declining, citing the fact that Korn's long awaited fifth album Untouchables, and Papa Roach's third album Lovehatetragedy, did not sell as well as their previous releases, nu metal bands were played less frequently on radio stations and MTV began focusing on pop punk, metalcore and emo.
Evanescence's debut album Fallen, was also released on March 2003. Many critics noted the nu metal sound of the album, whose Grammy Award-winning lead single "Bring Me to Life" was compared favorably to Linkin Park's style. By the end of 2003, Linkin Park's Meteora and Evanescence's Fallen ranked third and fourth respectively in the best-selling albums of 2003, and would go on to sell nearly 35 million copies between them as of 2012. Both bands released high-charting singles throughout 2003 to mid-2004. Also in 2003, Korn and Limp Bizkit released their new albums Take a Look in the Mirror and Results May Vary, both of which sold considerably less than their previous efforts. Korn went on to admit Take a Look in the Mirror was rushed, while readers of Guitar World magazine named Limp Bizkit, along with the post-grunge band Creed "worst band of 2003". In 2005, Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory received a diamond certification by the RIAA for shipment of ten million copies. Jane's Addiction returned in 2003 with their album Strays, which contained nu metal elements.
Decline in popularity (mid 2000s)
By the mid 2000s, metalcore (a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk) had become the most popular genre within the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. After a period of massive success of Linkin Park and Evanescence, nu metal had declined in popularity. Regarding his band's decline in popularity, Fred Durst said "Here's the deal: say in 2000, there were 35 million people who connected to this band. Twelve years later, lots of those people have moved on. We were a moment in time and it's over."
Many nu metal bands experimented with other genres and sounds. While Deftones retained several of their nu metal traits, they had overall moved on to a more alternative metal style, with their subsequent releases having eliminated rapping in almost all of their songs. Linkin Park's third studio album Minutes to Midnight, released in 2007, was noted for its complete departure from the band's signature nu metal sound. Other nu metal bands such as Disturbed, Drowning Pool, and Slipknot moved onto a more standard heavy metal sound, while others, such as Staind and Papa Roach went for lighter sounds, such as post-grunge and hard rock. Nu metal bands Korn, Limp Bizkit, Mudvayne still managed to experience popularity during the mid-2000s while also not completely abandoning the genre. Korn had popular hits such as "Coming Undone" and "Twisted Transistor", although the band added industrial elements and moved onto a more commercially acceptable sound, with pop producers The Matrix helping produce the band's 2005 album See You on the Other Side. Some critics cited Mudvayne's 2005 album Lost and Found as a change in the band's musical style.
2010s and slight revival
Despite the lack of radio play and popularity, some nu metal bands still gain critical and commercial success. Korn's 9th studio album Korn III: Remember Who You Are, sold 63,000 copies during its first week in the US, landing at number two on the Billboard 200. As of December 6, 2011, the album has sold 185,000 units in the U.S. and received positive reviews. In 2011, Limp Bizkit's long awaited sixth studio album Gold Cobra, sold 27,000 copies during its first week in the United States and peaking at number 16 on the Billboard 200 and the album has received mostly positive reviews. Also in 2011, Staind's self-titled album was a return to their early days of nu metal. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, with first sales week of 47,000 copies, making the fifth consecutive top-five album for Staind.
Evanescence's self-titled album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and other U.S charts and sold over 127,000 copies in the first week. On 2 December 2011, Korn released The Path of Totality selling 55,000 copies in its first week. Many cited this album as a new direction for nu metal, with the band taking influence from electronic music, most notably dubstep. Artists collaborating on the album included Skrillex, 12th Planet, Kill the Noise, Jon Gooch and Excision. The album received mostly positive reviews, winning a Revolver Golden God award for best album. This has led to some talk within the media of a possible nu metal revival.
Nu metal-influenced metalcore and deathcore bands such as Emmure, Here Comes the Kraken, Suicide Silence, Of Mice & Men and Issues gained moderate popularity in the 2010s. Recently, Linkin Park released their sixth record The Hunting Party which featured a return to their heavier style of nu metal and rap metal. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart behind Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence and Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour, with first-week sales of 110,000 copies in the United States. Their song "Until It's Gone" was nominated for the Best Rock Video category on the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Lorde's Royals. MTV also held a chance for fans to meet the band as well. Slipknot released .5: The Gray Chapter in 2014, which featured a return to their nu metal roots from their earlier albums while still keeping elements of their newer material. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 132,000 copies sold. Although, despite having no rapping in their music since 2004's Getting Away with Murder, Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix raps in a few songs of their 2012 album The Connection, and there is also a minimal amount of rapping in their latest album called F.E.A.R.
Nu metal has often been criticized by fans of some other metal genres, often being labelled derogatory terms such as "mallcore". Gregory Heaney of AllMusic has described the genre as "one of metal's more unfortunate pushes into the mainstream." Jonathan Davis, the frontman of the pioneering nu metal band Korn, was in an interview and said:
There's a lot of closed-minded metal purists that would hate something because it's not true to metal or whatever, but Korn has never been a metal band, dude. We're not a metal band. We've always been looked at as what they called the nu-metal thing. But we've always been the black sheep and we never fitted into that kind of thing so ... We're always ever evolving, and we always piss fans off and we're gaining other fans and it is how it is.
Some bands considered influential to nu metal have tried to distance themselves from the genre. Regarding his band's influence on nu metal, Faith No More and Mr. Bungle singer Mike Patton said "I feel no responsibility for that, it's their mothers' fault, not mine." While Helmet frontman Page Hamilton has stated "It's frustrating that people write [us] off because we're affiliated with or credited with or discredited with creating nu-metal and rap metal or whatever the fuck it is, which we sound nothing like." In response to reports that Fred Durst, lead singer of nu metal band Limp Bizkit is a big fan of his band, Tool's lead singer Maynard James Keenan said "If the lunch-lady in high school hits on you, you appreciate the compliment, but you’re not really gonna start dating the lunch-lady, are ya?" Although Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails defended some of the members of Korn during an MTV interview, he has also criticized the genre, saying in an interview with Kerrang!:
When I'm asked what do I think of a lot of the nu-metal bands that are out there, my response is that it seems really insincere to me. I've had a really shitty childhood and I'm really upset and I'm really ugly and I've put a lot of make-up on and I'm harder and faster and my voice sounds more like the cookie monster's than yours does. To me it all comes across as being comical, as being a parody of itself.
As the band had abandoned the nu metal sound often featured on their early work, Deftones' frontman Chino Moreno began to criticize the genre, especially Korn's 2002 release Untouchables: "As Korn go on, it's the same things—bad childhoods and mean moms. It gets too old after a while. How old is Jonathan? Thirty? How long has it been since he lived with his parents?" Korn's frontman Jonathan Davis responded in an interview saying:
"Obviously, Chino hasn't listened to the words on the rest of my albums because they're nothing about my parents or my childhood. He's bitter and pissed off. I haven't talked to him because that's some straight fucked up shit that he said. When we first came out it was cool and we were homies. Then as we came up they became bitter because we were getting more attention or some shit. It's retarded how it got like that.
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